This year marks the start of the first fall semester with the Linguistics Department hosting the Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI). This interview-based assessment - formerly the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) hosted by CITL - serves as an on-campus opportunity for international students to demonstrate their English proficiency and qualify to receive teaching assistantships.  

The Linguistics Department is excited to welcome Dr. Qiusi Zhang, our new OEAI coordinator!  

Qiusi Zhang


Take a look at the interview below to learn more about Qiusi and the OEAI: 

Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about yourself!  

Qiusi: I joined UIUC in August 2023. Prior to this, I received my doctoral degree in English (Second Language Studies) from Purdue University, where I specialized in language testing and assessment, as well as second language acquisition. For years, my work and research experience has revolved around ITA (International Teaching Assistant) test development, administration, validation, and quality control, as well as assessing the development of students’ oral proficiency in ITA courses. 


What are you looking forward to working on at UIUC?  

As the OEAI coordinator, I am excited about the opportunity to leverage my experience in language testing to the ongoing operation and development of the test. One of my goals is to build upon the amazing job by previous coordinators and staff of EPI/OEAI and continue to advance test validity and reliability through innovative research and technology. With the test now under the purview of the Department of Linguistics, I’d also like to take advantage of the collaborative dynamic and facilitate increased communication between the test and teaching spheres. My aim is to cultivate a more robust connection between the OEAI test and the ITA courses. 


Why are English proficiency tests like the OEAI important for our campus?  

The OEAI serves one of the three avenues for certifying language proficiency in prospective international teaching assistants (ITAs) at UIUC. ITAs hold a pivotal role in bolstering educational efforts across various departments on campus. The OEAI, along with the other English proficiency tests, not only offers gateways for prospective ITAs with adequate oral English proficiency to contribute their expertise and skills, but also opens doors for those who need further support in their preparation for future teaching roles. Overall, the test works hand in hand with ITA courses in offering essential support, which contributes to the overall enhancement of educational landscape at UIUC. 


You can read more about the OEAI here

The Linguistics Department would like to give a big thank you to Dr. Rurik Tywoniw for serving as the Interim OEAI Coordinator during the transition of the OEAI from CITL to Linguistics!

 Please join us in thanking Rurik, and in welcoming Qiusi and the Oral English Assessment Interview to the Linguistics Department at UIUC!